Let’s Talk About … Anxiety in a Relationship

Good Evening Munchkins!

Today I would like to branch into another topic to do with anxiety and that is being in a relationship. I feel like anxiety as a whole is a massive subject and no one ever really realizes the consequences it can have on different areas of their lives until it happens to them, much like this one. Therefore, similar to my blog post about Anxiety ft. Prom, I thought I would enter another subject that many teenagers go through but how anxiety is effected by it, or what it can cause. At the age of 16, I have a few friends who are in relationships and some who aren’t, and it’s kind of  a running joke that I will forever be single, but very recently I have entered a new one, (for the first time in nearly 2 years!). I sound so much like Bridget Jones, it’s not even funny! Anyway, taking my current relationship and my previous one into account, I will now press on with the blog post.

 Anxiety is something that, despite having it for so long and being able to write quite openly about on here, I struggle to speak about with people face-to-face. Even to my counsellor, which he’s still coming to terms with as I am usually such a chatty, bubbly person! It either takes a very long time for me to speak about my anxiety to you, or I have to whisper to you one-on-one, in the dark about it – I just have this mental block to talk about it! I think this is quiet common, but if I’m entering a relationship, I want that person to at least acknowledge my wavelength and how I think, even if they can’t do anything about it. I just want my partner to be aware of it, before I have a panic attack or hyperventilate and they have no idea why, and I can’t physically explain it. I would love to be able to sit down with someone and be like ‘I feel like this sometimes…’ or ‘sometimes I might go quiet; this means that..’, but the words don’t form in my mouth. I literally feel as if anxiety punishes me for speaking out about it, which is really weird to get your head around if you don’t suffer from a mental health issue, I know, but even typing it is making my heart beat that little bit faster. This kind of thing doesn’t have to be in a romantic relationship, it can also be in a family relationship/friendship.

With my first boyfriend, I don’t remember exactly telling him that I had anxiety, but I was filled with paranoia and stress throughout the whole thing, and even after. This wasn’t really helped with the fact that 3 weeks after me he got with this drop-dead gorgeous girl, and I was kind of like the ‘ex that shouldn’t have been’! After our relationship, we kept in contact, but knowing what he was like, I was still really cautious when he told me the certain things I wanted to hear. He was my first love, but the amount of stress he caused me just wasn’t worth it! Every time I met up with him I had a panic attack, and that drained me so much, but it was something he never really understood, even when he was diagnosed with clinical depression himself.

However, with this new boyfriend, I know I can tell him anything, which helps a lot with my type of anxiety. As I’ve found with my counsellor, I like to talk my ideas out (surprise, surprise!) and even just one niggling thought ends up being tracked years and years back. We are so similar to the point where I know he understands my train of thought and why I do things the way I do them – he told me yesterday that he noticed it way before we got together! I’ve never met someone who can read me so well, and knowing that my ideas aren’t entirely unheard of (one of the main reasons I don’t talk about them) really does help to reassure me. Yes, there are still difficult points where I’m paranoid, but he knows I mean it when I say it’s all in my head. If you have anxiety, you need to find someone like this! If I’m feeling anxious, he can calm me and reassure me to the point where I can laugh again – that has honestly never happened before! I need this kind of stability and reassurance in my life, particularly with everything that has happened recently.

I’ve never gone dating, but even the idea of it terrifies me. Just the idea of meeting someone and having to tell them some stuff about me but not all of it, and wondering what the important parts are about him and myself, and thinking about what to wear or to eat – nah, you’re alright! If there was ever a point where I had to date, which I hopefully won’t, I have no idea how I would cope. On a general night out I get so worked up as it is, even if it’s with people I know! I just overthink everything: every movement, every gesture, every tone of voice, every piece of eye contact and everything I could possibly dare to do myself.

So, taking all these into account, I have a few little tips if you are the person in the relationship with anxiety, because when you finally decide to open up and share your life, there’s a lot to adjust to:

  • Only do what you feel comfortable with; whether this is just choosing who you date or in a sexual way, people seem to think we’re quiet easy to manipulate or twist into their way of thinking. Obviously there’s a good form of manipulation, but it’s the people who start to control and run your life for you that become the ones that are hardest to physically leave. Speak to the person you want to speak to, not the person who wants to speak to you.
  • It’s okay to ask for reassurance; everyone’s a little bit paranoid and everyone’s going to overthink at least once in their lives, so it’s 100% fine to ask your boy/girlfriend what they’re thinking. They may appear fed up of it after a while, but your anxiety is a part of you, and if they want you badly enough, they will accept and adjust to your anxiety just as your entire life has been.
  • Talk to them about it; I know it sounds really generic, but if you form an emotional bond with someone and you feel comfortable with them (as they do you) then they will happily let you speak about it. I’ve never been the outsider in this situation, but I’m sure people wonder what the bloody hell is going through my head, so let them know what is going on in there! Mine’s kind of coming out in little spurts at the moment, but these bite-size chunks are much easier for my boyfriend to handle, I’ve discovered. For me it’s also a lot easier than opening a 1000-page book filled with all the different thoughts I have in a second! This is kind of down to you and how you decide to tackle the situation, but it’s definitely worth it. Also, if you’re having deep chats, common courtesy doesn’t allow someone to just get up and leave!

I also thought I’d attempt to write some tips for the other person in the relationship if they don’t have anxiety because trust me when I say I know how difficult it is to deal with! Both people in the relationship should be accounted for in order for it to remain happy and healthy:

  • Be patient; I wouldn’t expect your partner to start dating you and immediately be like ‘I have anxiety…’, ‘welcome to the world of paranoia!’ because it’s just as scary to talk about as it is to hear. If that person feels safe enough with you and comfortable in your company, they will naturally start drip-feeding little things, like ‘I’m not keen on going here because it tends to be crowded’. It may be subtle, it may be quite obvious, but just let the person talk about what they want at their own pace.
  • Find the things that calm them; I haven’t had a panic attack in front of my boyfriend yet, but I’m still trying to look for things I can show him that he can use on me when that time comes. Some people like being held, some like colouring in, others like sitting in a corner on their own – that’s up to you and your partner to find what works best and how to adapt to the different situations you may be placed in.
  • Enjoy the good times; for both people in the relationship, I’m sure anxiety isn’t that easy to speak about, so don’t become paranoid that just going out for a drink or to the cinema will suddenly cause a panic attack. It does depend on your partner and their level of anxiety, but if they reassure you that they’re going to be fine, they don’t need you constantly worrying next to them! I know it sounds really harsh, but accept the good times, and use it to remind them that life’s good and they’re doing really well.

And I think that’s it! I hope you have been able to take something from this blog post – although writing this hasn’t been easy, I really hope it’s worthwhile by helping you, whichever person you happen to be in the relationship. I’m really sorry that this is a day late, but it also means that tomorrow’s blog post will be uploaded Friday instead and then the usual blog post on Sunday. Sorry, I’m kind of on stress overload at the moment!

Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you Friday,

Rachel xx

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